Part 37: Camp Samuels and Fort EmeraldUpdate 033 Camp Samuels and Fort Emerald
Who's up for another long adventure involving bodily harm, stupid decisions, and lots of running away?
LET ME SLEEP!
What are your planzz?
Go to Almaria, find out where that Empire safehouse is, raid it, and just work our way from there.
Plans are not your strong suit are they?
We have not yet reported back about that Mage with the information about the portalzz.
.... We'll get to that later. When I'm certain we can handle what comes after that.
Also known as procrastinating.
Oh, a pox on all of you. Except Kai-Lyss. He could probably cure it.
What iz it the humansz sssay? 'Your kindnessss iz touching'?
That's sarcasm, dear.
Then I am correct.
Still no boat?
Take your gold and choke on it.
I don't like this. It's quiet.
It was probably abandoned.
Makes sense after we beat back that raid.
If we came here after the attack, we may have found the guilty.
Or they could have left traps.
Four Demons. Close quarters. SPAM THE HELL OUT OF CURSE/SLOW ALL. There are three at the end of this room, with one popping up behind you in the room you came from. Thankfully there are already so many NPCs on the map that a single summon is enough to his the 'maximum NPCs' mark. That's why you see those who Summoned Failed notes in the log.
How do we keep surviving these things?!?!
Because I'm that awesome.
I'm with Kai-Lyss on that.
Well, let's look around.
Not much in it. Pity.
The item Rare Books sells for 250 gold. I keep it for now.
ssshould have been here sooner.
I suspect they fled before we could have gotten here.
Not an excuse.
While you to argued, I found this.
Next stop, Blosk.
Which means it will probably be our second or third stop.
You have a point. First stop, Training!
I haven't done this in a while, but then again, the XP hasn't been all that great either. So here we go!
Art gets more Intelligence and SP for better spellcasting. Thanks to the increased SP costs of most of the spells in the game, you can no longer get away with only 35-50 at the endgame.
I have no idea why I gave Chester a point of Int. It's not like he's going to be picking up spells in the future. Rather, I think I just mis-clicked another point of Dexterity. Oh well.
Aarth-Tss just gets more Strength and Dexterity. Nothing special here.
And Kai-Lyss gets more Intelligence. I will have to put more points into SP soon, as well as Mage 6.
Marianna gets another point of Dexterity, and Item Lore gets boosted to Kai-Lyss doesn't have to waste SP on Identify.
Lastly, Dmurr gets more stats, while 1 Skill Point is saved for the future.
Thisss iz not the way.
Don't worry, I know where I'm going.
That'll be a first.
Perhaps she got a message to check out these halls?
And it escaped my notice? I don't think so.
That drake is a step down from a full on Dragon, and that Evil High Priest is just going to make things harder. Thankfully, I have the solution to every problem! Slow Group and Curse All! That being said, the Drake has a natural 8AP, meaning a single Slow will only bring it down to 4AP every turn, and it can cast Haste on itself. It rarely does though, instead preferring straight damage.
At least the Assassins are still chump change.
This will be easy.
Oh,just DIE ALREADY!
You see that line of treasure two tiles north of Art/Marianna/Dmurr? Well, that's what happens when I get some people into melee with the enemy casters, and they all decide to fall back, taking an attack of opportunity in the process. THEY ALL DIED.
Hold on, I'll start curing those diseases.
Why are we here, Sir Ma'am?
What is this place?
CHESTER! DROP AND GIVE ME 200!
You meet an armored soldier, practicing feints with a heavy steel sword. The movements are sure and skilled.
While I don't mind my people getting the exercise, who are you?
She turns to you, sweat pouring off her face. "I'm Lieutenant Faulkner. Welcome to the Camp!"
She grins proudly. "I build soldiers!"
Art, Unspecified Services. I see you've already met Chester. This is Kai-Lyss, Aarth-Tsss, Marianna and Dmurr.
Welcome to Camp Samuels! It's nice to see one of my graduates get a good position! She shakes Art's hand. What brings you here?
The usual. How are your soldiers?
She points at the western building. "They're all in there, resting. Then I'll drill them with live steel at three-quarters speed for, I dunno', six or seven hours." She beams with pride. "And they can take it."
"Sometimes, it makes it worth being Exiled."
MOVE IT CHESTER! You could have done a hundred by now! Are you slacking off!
SIR NO SIR, MA'AM SIR!
Well, nice to see where he got that.
Pardon me, but so few people think being exiled is a good thing.
"This is why I'm down here, ya' see. I tried to get in the military up surface. I was proud of my land, then, and wanted nothing more than to fight for it. But where I lived, they wouldn't allow it."
"So I made a stink. And you know what happened when you made a stink."
Despite what you may think, no reason for why she was forbidden from signing up is ever given. And I want to quash the first response many of you may have the Empire isn't sexist when it comes to military recruitment.
A ssstink? What does sssmell have to do with anything? You do not have an offenssive odour.
Nice of you to say, but you end up down here. Where nobody will keep you from fighting, and there's always plenty to fight for."
You meet a small, sturdily built, highly attractive woman. She takes off her helm to greet you, revealing a pleasant smile and short hair. "Lieutenant Mariann. What brings you to Camp Samuels?"
Wow, with the armor on, I can't really tell you apart.
That's the point Ma'am.
"I head the training here at the camp."
Your training must be very intense.
"I take the kids who're ready to fight for their home, and put them through the paces. Punish them, in other words."
I don't think punishment is ideal for a soldier.
She grins evilly. "Oh, you know! Weapons drills from sleep to sleep, rough food, runs through the tunnels. They're in there now, recovering from the last forced march. Castle and back, with boulders on their backs."
"Between you and me, I pity 'em. But I admire 'em too."
Admire those you punish?
"Ya' see, the Empire knows we're here, and they've sent raiders at us twice. And each time, the raiders got killed. All of 'em. And it was the kids who killed them. Exile grows people tough, and they learn fast. Plus, they got a big advantage."
Dare I even ask?
"Simple. Empire fighters, they fight 'cause they were told. 'Cause they have to. But us, we got something to fight for!" She grins. "Magic helps. Steel helps. But some things are unbeatable!"
Let's just take a peak in.
There iz magic here.
You meet a man with harsh features and the blackest hair you've ever seen, long onyx sheets of it reaching halfway down his back. He is sharpening a rapier, and purple sparks fly from the blade as he runs his stone down it.
"My name's Ray. That's lizard-speak for a forge-man, right?
"I'm the smith here. They wanted someone making weapons near the Castle, someone really good, so they got me. I work steel."
I thought Fort Draco waszz the only placces to work Sssteel.
"Hard stuff to work down here. I'm one of the few that has the skill and equipment to do it. Plus, what's better, I know some magic."
He mutters a few words, and the steel of the rapier blade begins to glow red hot. He starts running the stone down it again. "I can make a weapon sharper than any you've seen. If you want to buy improvement for one of your blades, let me know."
Asking him about improvements brings up our third augmentation option.
For a stupidly high price, you can give one of your non-magic weapons a +2 to its stats. If you remember from the first time this happened, that a difference of +1 is all that stands between Steel and Magic weapons, then +2 will put them over the top in terms of power. I still prefer Protection though, and there are certain unique weapons that beat that as well.
So I slap one onto Chester's Great Mace.
A young, red haired man with long, nimble fingers works behind the counter bending wire. He seems to be making a lockpick of some sort.
Marianna. You're not the usual kind of person we would see around here. What do you do?
"Well, they need tools around here. Need 'em for training, need 'em at the castle, need 'em everywhere. So they brought in a toolmaker."
Tools? I see what you have, but it's not what it seems to be trained here.
"They brought me in to make tools. Set me up here, near enough to the Castle to be useful." He holds up a lockpick. "Beautiful pick, isn't it?"
I would have picked some up here, save Marianna already has the Magic Lockpicks, and thus needs no more, ever.
Time to leave.
Can we never come back here Please?
Becaussse they mussst.
North is Emerald. We should stop there for a spell.
Welcome to Fort Emerald.
To enter thisss mighty fortresss....
Another place you lizards couldn't break?
Not for lack of trying. Gnass is near az well.
Welcome, Sir. Here for an inspection?
No, soldier. On my way to Blosk to deal with a thing. Stopping here for a respite.
You're always welcome, Sir. Enjoy your stay.
Heroizsm sshould be recognized.
As long as you understand. Going to share a story, Art?
Nah. It wasn't anything special.
Good enough against thosse naturally attuned to the water; sssufficient for the Empire.
Odd, he's not here.
In retrospect, he is. I'm so used to people sitting at their desks, that I completely missed that he should be the one sitting at the head of the table. I will have to come back later to check, but for now, he's not in his office. One of the few times when seeing the 'guard' NPC and ignoring it comes to bite me.
Marianna! This man has taken a nasty wound recently. His ribs are wrapped in a broad, gauze bandage, and you can see blood is slowly starting to seep through.
Varn! What happened? I haven't seen you in months!
He starts to sit up, winces in pain, and lies back down. "I do recon. That's how I ended up this way. What about you?
I've gotten some work with Unspecified Services. I'm currently in this team here, under Art.
He tries to snap a salute, but his injuries prevent him.
You're doing recon? What? Where?
"Reconnaissance. Spying. Watching the enemy. Real risky." He winces in pain again. "See, my patrol was on a boat trip, up northeast, and when we landed, we got ambushed."
Did you get to the Slith Waters, or were you headed for the Waterfalls?
Waterfalls, Ma'am. Trying to get into the Abyss.
Don't mind that! You said you were ambushed?
"Empire soldiers. They're all dead now. But one of 'em got me across the ribs with his sword. I'll be OK. I hope. Better off than him, anyway." He touches the bandage gingerly, then winces. "And you know what burns my butt? I say what I saw on my recon, and nobody believes me! Nobody!"
Nobody in this group is a fool. Besides, it's our job to investigate the unusual.
"Yeah. See, we brushed near Limoncelli's fort to take a look, and I saw a bunch of those tall, skinny, weird guys landing in a boat. Those weird guys with the barriers. What were they called?"
What are they doing there?
Looking for their Crystals maybe? They know the Empire took'em.
"Yeah! Those freaks. I saw a bunch of 'em talking with Limoncelli's troops, right outside his fort! I don't know why they'd be there, but I don't trust 'em!"
Thank you. We'll look into that. You rest.
Come by more often. You're better medicine than any potion.
Many Slithzerikai have died here. I bear thisss place no grudge for it.
Requiescant in pace."
"What language is that?"
"A dead one used for ritual and some magics. It's meaning is unambiguous, so it's good for such things."
"Right, monsters to help defend the fort. Leave them be."
I closed the door before the Fire Drake spotted me, so it won't be running around, following me.
"Where did they get one of these?!?!"
"More proof there is a route to the Vahnatai lands in the region."
"Ah, I heard you were running around." You meet a Captain of the Exile army. When he sees you, he walks over to greet you.
Hello, Captain. This is my current crew.
He offers a hand to shake. "Welcome to our fort, adventurers. Nice to see new faces. I am Captain Schnitzius."
"I'm preparing for another raid. That's what I do, mainly."
A raid? Varn's group's intelligence paid off?
Of course you would know that. Look, We're all fighting the army of Limoncelli here. I'm on another raid to try to penetrate his defenses."
Tell me about Limoncelli. I've been out of touch due to the Barriers.
"He lives in Fort Dolthar, on an island to the northeast, and runs all his raids from there. We're just trying to find a way to get at him." He pauses, then continues, grimly. "Of course, even if we did reach him, he's a ... well ... unusual warrior."
In what way?
"I don't know how much of this is rumors and how much is fact, but it would seem that Limoncelli has been altered in some way. He's fast! He moves faster than a hasted person, and is that way all the time!"
"I don't know how he got that way, but let me tell you, it doesn't make me too happy about the prospect of fighting him."
A Ring or Bootssss of Ssspeed?
Last I saw one of those was in Dharmon, a few years back.
That the most likely explanation, but the men don't like it because the Mages can't slow him down.
Then the sssolution iz to move azz fasst az he.
I wish I had your confidence in that regard.
We'll add it to the list of things to look into, Captain. Thank you for your time.
Any time. If Limoncelli ends up dead in a random attack, I for one won't think too badly of it.
What iz that?
I've heard of this. It's a magic repository. I think.
A miniscule woman is loose clothes sits cross-legged on her chair, staring into the glowing, green crystal. Her gaze flickers up to you for a moment. "I am Tessa. What brings you here, strangers?"
Art. I'm not exactly a stranger here.
Ah, forgive me. I expected someone... larger. I am preparing for my next raid. Move fast, strike hard, that sort of thing. We're heading north."
A raid? Limoncelli?
"No, There's an Empire fort being built to the north, then a ways to the northwest. Way on the other side of this huge, rubble-strewn cave. We're trying to disrupt things, and maybe come up with a pass."
I know the cavern. Had to deal with a Lich there, Draath, a while ago.
I wondered what happened to it.
You mentioned a pass? What colour?
"We've been trying to get our hands on a blue pass. You know, the passes the Empire folks use to get places. They've been having lots of supplies shipped into the new fort, so we think they must have some passes there." She focuses into the crystal. "But it's very dangerous, and I need all the power I can get."
You meet a priest in white robes, staring into a large, green crystal and meditating. He leans back from the crystal, highly relaxed, and turns to you. He's a middle aged man, with very sparse hair. "I'm Buck. Welcome to the fort."
"Please, don't mind me. I'm doing my meditations before going back to my healing."
You're the healer around here?
"When an attack comes, a lot of people become hurt very quickly, and I need to move fast and work hard. That's why I keep as much energy stored up as I possibly can at all times."
Don't let me interrupt you then.
Almost done here, I think.
You meet a woman wearing rough clothes, and an equally rough expression.
A civilian? What are you doing here?
She nods. "Call me Therese. I'm a merchant, see, and I'm waiting for my current shipment to be approved so I can head out."
Being a merchant? Tough?
Yes it is, especially the travelling in these times.
What's your shipment?
"Yeah, four hundred pounds of iron rats fer' Fort Emerald. Then on to Dharmon." She says the word Dharmon with great lack of enthusiasm.
I have no idea what 'rats' is supposed to signify, unless it's an Exile-only colloquialism for ingots, or something else entirely. My research was fruitless, though I did find some interesting studies on the use of iron-content in rats blood for medicinal testing.
Iron rations seem like the most likely candidate to me.
Dharmon... I think we have something that needs to go there ourselves.
"Yeah, Dharmon, westernmost city of Exile, and city nearest to where all the real bloodshed is going on. I got to take a load there, and then I'm getting back east, where it's safe!"
Going to have to swing by Patrick's tower sooner or later. I need to talk to him.
NO! No! Sorry, I can see now how that could be mistakenly taken. No, it's just personal business, not professional. So no need to drag you guys along right away.